Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Times They Have Come

Brad DeLong on the decline of NYTimes and journalism:

Peter Baker's article reads like Hollywood celebrity journalism: 95 percent gossip, and perhaps 5 percent policy. This, to me, is a big problem. Celebrity gossip is the wrong rhetorical mode for a story in the nation's leading newspaper about White House economic policymaking. If The New York Times does not share that belief, if it views decision making on matters of state in the same light as decision making on matters concerning the Academy Awards, that may partially explain the fix the paper is in. It may also determine whether The Times ever emerges from its troubles with its influence and dignity intact.

The whole retelling of the story is fantastic, my favorite is the list below:

Instead, what the Times Magazine piece tells you about Orszag and Obama is that:

1. Obama is unhappy with the menu of policy options his advisors have been giving him.

2. Obama is so focused on the economy that he cancels lunch breaks to continue conversations.

3. Obama is pragmatic.

4. The process of making economic policy inside the Obama administration was no fun and was "dysfunctional."

5. Talking to Obama's economic policy staff is like "picking through the wreckage of a messy divorce."

6. Paul Volcker felt ignored by Peter Orszag and others.

7. Peter Orszag "was considered... arrogant. When Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood mentioned to a reporter that he had settled a dispute with Orszag by going around him to Emanuel, a peeved Orszag would not take his apology calls; LaHood ultimately sent a case of wine to make amends. Orszag also exchanged testy emails with Emanuel over the health care effort."

8. Other officials "tired of Orszag's refrain" about cutting the long-term deficit.

9. Orszag believes, "Unfortunately, I think the environment often brought out the worst in people instead of the best in people. And I’d include myself in that."

10. Of Larry Summers's replacement, Gene Sperling: "The selection of Sperling, who held the same job under Clinton, was telling. A onetime boy wonder who, despite his graying hair, still has the same whirling-dervish, work-till-midnight energy, Sperling... eventually won over Obama with his doggedness. As a champion of the payroll tax holiday, he proved critical to shaping Obama’s tax deal with Republicans and so many other issues that White House officials refer to him as B.O.G., the Bureau of Gene. Where Summers was a master macroeconomic thinker, Sperling is known for his mastery of getting things done, or at least waging the fight, in the place where policy, politics and media meet."

It's a thorough example of why so many are frustrated with our current established media (and not because it's oh so librul!). They fail us daily, especially on an economic front. My personal take is that economics is hard, so they prefer just talking about Peter Orszag in a Kate Gosselin kind of way.

He is dating a hotty and making millions!
(Frank fans himself incessantly)

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

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